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The traditional Italian Universities' reaction to the pandemic emergency: The role of the intellectual capital

Paola Paoloni (Department of Law and Economics of Production Activities, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy)
Giuseppe Modaffari (Unisu Department, Niccolo Cusano University, Rome, Italy)
Giorgia Mattei (Department of Business Studies, Roma Tre University, Rome, Italy)

Journal of Intellectual Capital

ISSN: 1469-1930

Article publication date: 21 May 2021

166

Abstract

Purpose

The lockdown imposed to avoid the increase in the number of infections caused by the pandemic emergency declared in January 2020 has unavoidably compromised the normal functioning of the Universities. They have been forced to stop the operation of their traditional student-oriented activities. In this light, the present work aims to analyse how traditional Italian Universities continue to deliver services to their students during the emergency.

Design/methodology/approach

Qualitative explorative research was done. The paper used a multiple case study focused on two main public universities located in Rome (Italy). The data was collected using action research with participant observation. The activities observed before and during the health emergency are those related to the second mission and their services.

Findings

Until the pandemic emergency arose, in the organizations analysed, the work was done traditionally. When the lockdown started the main instruments adopted to teach and provide the related services to students were the digital tools. Therefore, these devices represent how these organizations could immediately react to face the challenge arising from the impossibility to physically meet the students while continuing to support them in their educational path. Based on the findings obtained these universities fall into the “corporate entrepreneurship” definition.

Research limitations/implications

The present work has managerial and academic implications. The academic implications can be summarized in two main points: the work (1) promptly analysed the changes necessary to overcome the problematics caused by the pandemic emergency; (2) contributes to the debate concerning the transfer of knowledge using digital tools and their relevance on the intellectual capital. One of the limits of the work is that only two Italian traditional universities are analysed and that the study focuses on universities located in a same city.

Practical implications

On the other hand, in referent to managerial implications, this paper highlights how the corporate entrepreneurial view could be useful to support an inspected challenge that could happened in a certain historical period. Therefore, a real implementation of the entrepreneurial concepts is preferred.

Originality/value

The paper discussed an original and contemporary topic not yet investigated since it refers to the Universities' reaction to the pandemic emergency in 2020, with the focus on their ability to maintain the intellectual capital value and give more points that could be investigate in the future, as, e.g. a selection of more than three traditional universities or with a comparative case study, useful in highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of the decisions taken in different contexts, considering: (1) telematic universities and traditional universities; or (2) universities located in other countries. Another future line of enquiry could be to focus the analysis on the effective quality of the MOOCs applied at the universities' activities, using the students' opinions obtainable through OPIS (Rilevazione Opinione degli Studenti) or through direct interviews.

Keywords

Citation

Paoloni, P., Modaffari, G. and Mattei, G. (2021), "The traditional Italian Universities' reaction to the pandemic emergency: The role of the intellectual capital", Journal of Intellectual Capital, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JIC-07-2020-0241

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2021, Emerald Publishing Limited

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